This week former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave the first comprehensive policy speech how to combat ISIS. The address came less than 24 hours after the terrorist attacks in Belgium and was presented to a full house at the Stanford University’s Bechtel Conference Center.
There is no doubt that Clinton finds support from Republican neocons that are left over from both George H.W. Bush and his son, George W. Bush. They know that she is far more hawkish than he former boss President Barack Obama.
Despite the Benghazi allegations Clinton still finds Republican neocons who find her very acceptable as a commander in chief over Donald Trump and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.
Topping the more than 135 invited guests and members of the media. Former Secretary of State George Shultz and former Secretary of Defense William Perry, who are fellows with the Stanford’s Hoover Institution, sat in the front row.
She outlined a strategy that would expand military, security and political alliances globally, reinforce the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), partner with technology businesses and nations to strengthen cybersecurity and intelligence operations, and define and invest in communities that are hotbeds of jihadis to counter their influence.
Clinton went after Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s positions on Syria and Iraq, particularly his call for the “carpet bombing” of ISIS. “It would also be a serious mistake to begin carpet bombing populated areas into oblivion,” Clinton said, in many ways supporting the plans put forward her former boss President Barack Obama. “Proposing that doesn’t make you sound tough. It makes you sound like you are in over your head. Slogans aren’t a strategy. Loose cannons often misfire.”
In somber, measured tones, Clinton described the global threat of the Islamic State, or ISIS, mentioning not only the widely publicized attacks in Paris, San Bernardino and Brussels, but also incidents in Istanbul, West Africa, Tunisia and Lebanon and on a Russian passenger jet.
“Walls will not protect us from this threat. We cannot contain ISIS. We must defeat ISIS. This will be one of the most important challenges facing the next president, who takes office on Jan. 20,” she said. “Our new commander-in-chief will walk into the Oval Office and find a world of hard choices and complex problems. That president will sit down at the desk and start making decisions that will affect the lives and livelihoods of every American and people around the world. So the stakes could not be higher.”
She took aim at the GOP front runner Donald Trump’s recent suggestion that United States should rethink its involvement with NATO because it is “costing us a fortune,” the former Secretary of State said such a stance “would reverse decades of bipartisan American leadership and send a dangerous signal to friend and foe alike.” She suggested that Trump wanted to turn US alliances into a “protection racket.” “Putin already hopes to divide Europe,” Clinton said. “If Mr. Trump gets his way, it will be like Christmas in the Kremlin. It will make America less safe and the world more dangerous.” She did not take any questions after the speech.”
Trump, who has repeatedly called the Iraq war a mistake, accused former President George W. Bush administration of lying to drag the United States into said war, claimed he would be “neutral” in his dealings with Israel and just recently sketched out an “unabashedly noninterventionist approach to world affairs” for the Washington Post editorial board.
She has gained the support of many of the Republican neocon defensive advisors who were part of the foreign policy teams of former president Bush as well as former GOP nominee Mitt Romney, feel more comfortable with Clinton than they do with either Trump or Cruz.
Concerned that Trump would “destroy American foreign policy and the international system,” author Max Boot told Vox that Clinton would be “vastly preferable.” Historian Robert Kagan has also come out in favor of Clinton, saying he feels “comfortable with her on foreign policy.” Eliot Cohen, a former Bush administration official who has been called “the most influential neocon in academe,” declared Clinton “the lesser evil, by a large margin.”
When President Obama nominated Clinton for secretary of state in 2008, Richard Perle, one of the Iraq War’s primary cheerleaders and chairman of the Defense Policy Board in the lead-up to the war, said he was “relieved.” “There’s not going to be as much change as we were led to believe.”
Perle, who was sometimes referred to as the “Prince of Darkness” and who once predicted there would be “some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush,” made clear his support for Clinton was not due to a lack of choices. “I heard about others on the list [for secretary of state] that I wouldn’t be happy about,” he said. “Those were mostly Republicans.”
George Shultz (who was at Clinton’s speech at Stanford), secretary of state under Ronald Reagan and an early proponent of what would come to be known as the “Bush doctrine,” stated that: “I think she could be a very good secretary of state.” Deeming her “well-informed” and “curious,” Shultz’s only concern about her selection was that, having competed against Obama in a sometimes vicious campaign for the Democratic nomination, their relationship might be weakened.
The key point here is that in Washington she and President Obama did not see eye to eye on much of the topic of foreign policy. Something not lost of Republican neocons.
Condoleezza Rice, former national security adviser and later secretary of state under Bush, congratulated Clinton on doing “a fine job” as secretary of state, despite her misgivings about the Obama administration’s approach as a whole. “The problem isn’t Hillary Clinton, who’s great,” she said in a 2014 interview. Rice blamed the Obama administration for their policies and left Clinton out of that blame.
Former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge said he always had “productive’” meetings with Sec. Clinton when he was in the Cabinet. “Ridge also offered some praise for Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton, saying he always had ‘productive’ meetings with her when he was in the Cabinet and she was a senator. He said a Bush versus Clinton match-up would be ‘almost a clash of titans,’ leading to a campaign that is ‘tough, rigorous, and hopefully, for the first time in a long time, civil.’”
Even Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, who himself was a candidate for the 2016 presidential GOP nomination. In 2013 he praised Clinton in Philadelphia. “Hillary Rodham Clinton, who many believe can win the 2016 Democratic nomination for president, if she wants it, is the winner of the 2013 Liberty Medal.
At the end of the day the Republican’s would much rather have Bush, Gov. John Kasich, or any other candidate than they would support Clinton. But at least at this moment she remains the only candidate who understands how things work on the world stage.